This weekend marked the 100th birthday of Ross Macdonald. Often referred to as the third father of the private eye novel, along with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, he is the lesser known of this triumvirate. There are authors that may not have read one of his books, yet borrow from him just the same.
“I love to be with him in mid-century California,” says author Ace Atkins. “He picks up when Chandler left us and continues to be the moral compass in shifting times. But beyond what we expected of a crime book, he showed us how violence, turmoil and greed can effect family. The greatest at character study.”
Of the three, he was the most prolific; Macdonald wrote over twenty novels, stretching from The Dark Tunnel, originally released in 1944 under his real name Kenneth Millar, to The Blue Hammer, Macdonald’s last novel, published in 1976. Most featured his laconic private detective, Lew Archer.
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On Tuesday, December 15th, at 2 PM, our Murder In the Afternoon Book Club will belatedly (by two days) celebrate the 100th birthday of one of private eye fiction’s greatest. Ross Macdonald gave the genre both a psychological edge and social resonance with his aware, loner detective Lew Archer. The book we’ll be discussing, The Underground Man, is the epitome of MacDonald.
Archer’s neighbor hires him to find her son, kidnapped by his father and his father’s mistress. They head toward her mother-in-law’s home, near an area plagued by a huge forest fire. Soon, Archer finds the husband dead, but the mistress and boy are still missing. In his search for the boy, Archer follows a labyrinth trail of Macdonald tropes, family secrets, losers looking for their shot, blackmail, and dangerous love.
The Underground Man will provide a great discussion – about the novel, and equally about its creator. We will be meeting at BookPeople’s cafe at 2PM on Tuesday, December 15th. The book is 10% off at the registers for those who attend. You can find copies of The Underground Man on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
On October 28th, the Hard Word Book Club celebrates the 100th anniversary of Ross MacDonald’s birth. MacDonald is considered one of the pioneers of the American private eye novel. We will be reading one of his earlier novels, The Barbarous Coast.
The novel puts his series detective, Lew Archer, in the company of Malibu’s rich and famous. Hired to find a missing swim champ turned starlet, Lew follows a trail that involves her boxer husband, some old-school mobsters, a decade-old murder and several new ones. It was written during what some refer to as MacDonald’s “Chandler Period” where he was still utilizing many of the classic PI tropes, but what he did with them were one of a kind.
We’ll be talking about both the book and MacDonald himself. The meeting will start at 7PM, on Wednesday, October 28th, up on BookPeople’s third floor. On December 15th at 2PM, our Murder In The Afternoon Book Club tackles The Underground Man, a book from MacDonald’s later years.
The Hard Word Book Club meets the last Wednesday of each month to discuss noir and hard-boiled genre literature. Book clubs are free and open to the public, and book club selections are 10% off when purchased in-store. You can find copies of The Barbarous Coast on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.